The New York Giants need help on both sides of the ball entering the 2021 NFL offseason. The Giants’ offense was particularly poor during the 2020 regular season. Upgrading the offense is a major point of emphasis for Dave Gettleman and the Giants this offseason. But there are weaknesses that need to be masked on the defensive side of the ball, as well.
One major area of weakness for the Giants on defense is at the edge rusher position. Patrick Graham and the Giants’ defense were able to put together a productive pass-rush this past season. But much of the Giants’ pass-rush was schemed together by Graham or generated from the interior defensive line.
New York was inconsistent pass-rushing off the edge. They struggled with injuries and often found themselves starting late-round draft picks at edge rusher. The Giants should make it a priority to find a primary pass-rusher to line up as a stand-up edge rusher in 2021. But should they find this player in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft?
One intriguing EDGE prospect that has been suggested as an option for the Giants is Michigan edge rusher Kwity Paye. Many analysts have mocked Paye to the Giants with the eleventh overall pick in the draft. There is a lot to like about Kwity Paye, but there are reasons to disagree with this mock draft selection to the Giants.
What makes Kwity Paye so exciting?
Kwity Paye’s incredible athleticism and unreachable traits make him such an exciting prospect. He has all the tools necessary to become an elite edge rusher. But he does need to refine his technique and add more pass-rushing moves to his toolbox.
At six feet, four inches, and 272 pounds, Kwity Paye just moves different for a guy his size. Paye clocked a 6.37 three-cone drill at Michigan, an utterly insane time for an edge rusher. That explosiveness and agility cannot be taught at Paye’s position. He is a rare physical talent.
Like Rashan Gary in 2019, Kwity Paye is a Michigan edge rusher that did not put up crazy numbers in college but is projected to be drafted in the first half of the NFL Draft. Paye only totaled 11.5 sacks throughout his four-year collegiate career. His best season was in 2019 when Paye played 12 games and racked up 6.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 50 total tackles.
Sack totals do not tell the full story with Kwity Paye, though. Paye is an edge prospect that frequently found himself in the backfield pressuring quarterbacks. Many of those pressures failed to turn into sacks, but he was still a productive pass-rusher in college. Maybe with some NFL coaching in a better defensive scheme, Kwity Paye will be able to turn those sacks into pressures.
Why Kwity Paye might not be the best fit for the Giants
Kwity may be an extraordinarily talented edge rusher. But he might not be the edge rusher that the Giants need. Paye is has all of the unreachable traits that NFL scouts and general managers will fall in love with. He has too much raw athleticism and talent to bust in the NFL. But his style of play might not translate to every NFL team.
Playing at Michigan in college, Kwity Paye was playing in a 4-3 defensive scheme. This means that Paye lined up as an edge rusher with his hand in the dirt, like a defensive end. Now, the Giants certainly do run a “multiple” defensive scheme, constantly changing their defensive fronts and disguising their coverages. But, the Giants’ base defense is primarily a 3-4 defense. Kwity Paye might struggle with the transition to a stand-up edge rusher after getting accustomed to the defensive end role he played in college.
Additionally, Kwity Paye is a raw prospect. He needs to be molded into an elite pass-rusher. But he will not be an elite pass-rusher instantly, especially if he has to change positions. The Giants are in need of an instant-impact player with the eleventh overall pick. There are other players at other positions better suited to help the Giants win in 2021 than Kwity Paye.